SIDAS and Lake Shoes Foot Seminar
For the hardest working part of our bodies in cycling, our feet often get a rough ride. We were invited along to the Boardman Centre for some serious foot science and to see how custom foot beds and well fitted shoes can not only help your performance, but will also improve your overall foot health too.
Watching SIDAS and Lake setting up at the Boardman Centre, the amount of work and attention to detail, it was clear that this was going to be an interesting day. True to this, a skeletal foot came out, along with a myriad of machines … interesting.
Opening up the day for our group of eager foot technicians, the guys from SIDAS obviously had particular goals and were consummate professionals, discussing these prior to beginning the sessions. The array of technical kit required is significant, looking like a medical facility for foot care, which in many respects I guess it is, because riding or doing any physical activity in ill fitting footwear will ultimately cause long term issues, as well as hindering performance. Many of the people, all from within the cycling community and industry knew each other, which is a common feature within cycling and before long we were all learning about the intricacies of biomechanics and foot injuries and issues.
Being a rider and former rock monkey (climber), with two foot operations to my name, it was fascinating stuff as we were led through the multiple problems that cyclists can suffer and the solutions available. How often do we simply walk into a shop or look online and buy the shoes that are cheapest, without any real thought to the long term consequences. No, wearing a thicker sock or some cardboard strategically placed under the insole is not the answer.
Forensic science has discovered long ago that each foot is different, using shoe prints to solve crimes. We all walk, run and turn the pedals in a different way and SIDAS led the group the science of this and how the foot needs to operate, before some serious analysis and foot measurement was required – time to get out the whizzy machines.
The guys from SIDAS went through their FIT Protocol, which is at the heart of everything that they do. There’s a clarification of important terms and points in fitting and the level of information that was given out relating to the foot and the various foot positioning was exceptional, making me analyse my own way of walking, running and cycling as I listened in. That long list of regular toe and foot issues suddenly became understandable as I realised that there’s more to buying shoes than simply walking into a store and hoping that they’ll do the job.
The group was broken down and set to measuring each other’s feet, looking at how foot beds can assist and how each foot varies in a number of ways: high arch, width, various leg positions and movements t and how these alter the position of the foot. It was an excellent explanation of the difference between a wide foot and a high volume foot, and how the shoe will differ for each. For instance, a high volume foot will have a wide foot and high shape, so it’s crucial to know about how custom foot beds can assist in the overall fitting and performance of the shoe.
Everyone has their foot accurately measured, both in terms of width, length and volume – yes volume, and then we’re introduced to the V-VAC and HD Vacuum Silicon Bags, which are two separate silicon vacuum bags filled with microballs connect to the V-VAC vacuum pump. The rider is directed to place their feet onto these, as the foot is guided into the bag as it forms, producing a perfect representation of the foot and how the sole is shaped. From this, the skilled technician can choose the right foot beds, heat them and form them into the mold to produce a perfect shape for each foot. SIDAS system uses a small ‘baking’ machine called the V-Lab, which is a thermo-welding device developed for thermo-forming techniques. It’s used to make plantar orthotics without adhesive, having multi-function touch controls for setting heat and time, so the skilled user won’t burn your meal … or over-cook your foot beds.
Then it’s off to the final shape forming, where fibre board is added to the foot bed, adding stability inside the shoe, before a very smart looking grinder is used to finalise the foot love, smoothing everything out to ensure that it sits perfectly inside your cycling shoes. Oh, did I forget … yes, there’s also more to the actual cycling shoe itself than meets the eye – next it was time for some shoe science from Lake.
Christian Van Asten loves your feet … truly he does, and he wants you to take better care of them too. That’s why Lake produce the widest selection of shoe lasts in the industry; and no, a Shoe last is not ‘how much use you’ll get out of it!’ No, it’s the actual base on which the sole is added and the upper is formed, making sure that the shoe is the right one for you, and yes Lake produce all of their own and a great selection of sizes for all types and widths of feet. It seems sensible then that this likeable Dutchman would work alongside SIDAS, ensuring that all of their hard work and science is utilised in the right way – in the right shoe and foot bed for you.
Christian talked the group through the technicalities of shoe sizing, including the volume issue, which is just as critical as width. Displaying their latest shoe, Christian demonstrated the independent Boa strapping system, which operated separately at each point of the upper, wrapping the foot perfectly in skin tight comfort.
We’re guided through the ‘Lake & bake’ process, where your measurements are refined to choose the perfect shoe, which is then fitted even closer through a baking process to make it as individual as your precious feet. Then, it’s time to add to SIDAS footbeds and feel how different it all is. Yes, I know that you’re probably a little bit skeptical still, but wait …
I live in North Yorkshire, the home of skeptically challenged people. Once home from the seminar, the first thing I did was to ride, immediately noticing the stability of the foot and extra comfort and power transfer. Seriously, it was like being given an extra slice of cake at the Jervaulx Tearooms – yes, the feeling was quite profound and joyful!
Back to the seminar then, and time to take more about shoes.
Lake also appreciate that once you’ve had your foot properly measured, that you now have your definitive foot size. Unlike other brands, Lake use the same lasts across both road and mountain bike shoe ranges. More often than not, cyclists will probably have several shoes of various sizes, that are supposed to be the same, so it’s refreshing to know that once measured you can pick up any shoe from the Lake range with confidence.
By the time that our group have finished measuring, heating, tweaking, molding and grinding, and Andy from Bristol has done my own feet, we’re all feeling far more educated about cycling foot love. Not only that, but once home the SIDAS system immediately began to prove its worth inside my own Lake Shoes. Yes, there’s definitely more to cycling than simply turning the crank. Maybe it’s time to hug your own feet and treat them to some cycling foot love from SIDAS and Lake.